(image courtesy of CNN Philippines)
With the Duterte administration yet to fulfill its promises of shifting to a federal system, and the never-ending debates on whether we should initiate such a shift, please let us lay out own proposals for reform.
A ceremonial presidency with some reserve powers
The president will remain the nominal head of state. The president will be elected to a six-year term with no limits. He will remain to appoint judges, cabinet members, and other officials, sign bills into laws, and grant pardons. He will also remain commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president will set his agenda through the state of the nation address.
The presidency is largely ceremonial but will largely maintain some emergency powers including the imposition of martial law (to be approved by parliament) and states of emergency, rebellion, or others.
A strong premiership
The president will appoint a prime minister which shall come from the largest party forming the majority. The prime minsiter has an indefinite term limit but could be removed by a no-confidence vote, a replacement appointed by the president, or direct elections.
The prime minister makes sure the agendas set by the president are carried out and responsible for the inplementation of government policies. The prime minister will have the power to recommend the state budget to the president.
He will also make sure there is a proper coordination between the federal and state governments.
A bicameral legislature
We envision a bicameral Batasang Pambansa to serve as our legislature. The lower chamber (Batasang Bayan or assembly) will be selected from the constituent states and representatives of various sectors. They will be responsible drafting bills which if passed will be recommended to the speaker, then the prime minister, then the president.
The upper chamber (Sanggunian or Council) will be responsible for decisions for the federal level (national defense, taxation, foreign policy, and other matters). It will be made up of the 18 leaders of the different federal subjects, with a rotational chairmanship.
The Philippines will be divided into 19 co-equal federal subjects (or if you may, republics):
- Metro Manila Special Administrative Region (composed of Metro Manila and Rizal)
- Sierra Madre and Batanes (Cagayan Valley)
- Central Luzon
- Southern Tagalog
- Negros (both Negros provinces and Siquijor)
- Cebu (composed of Cebu and Bohol)
- Eastern Visayas
- Northern Mindanao
- Federal Capital Area (Baguio City shall be the new capital)
They will have their own legislatures and own laws or systems but at the same time federal law shall remain supreme.
The court system will largely remain the same: Supreme Court, Ombudsman, Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals, the Regional and Metropolitan Trial Courts, and others, but initiate reforms to make it more effective and less prone to corruption.
Other areas of reform
There will be a federal police force, federal armed forces, progressive tax system, a new public broadcaster, making the major languages of the Philippines (Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Tausug, Bikol, Waray, Pangasinan, Ilokano, Chavacano, etc.) official alongside English and Spanish, among others. There are many areas where the Philippines has to reform but these are the most fundamental, basic reforms we are proposing. In the end, however, it is still up to them to decide.